Applied Technology Careers: Job Description & Salary Information

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Take a look at some of the facts surrounding a career in applied technology. Get real job descriptions and education requirements to see if a career in applied technology is right for you.
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Careers in Applied Technology

Applied technology is a broad term that can apply to a number of professions in various industries, including many computer and medical careers. Four distinctly different applied technology careers include computer systems administrator, plumber, surgical technologist and electrician. Here's a look at each of these potential careers.

Computer Systems Administrator Plumber Surgical Technologist Electrician
Career Overview Computer systems administrators are in charge of the daily computer operations for companies or organizations. Plumbers fix and install equipment and pipes that carry water for factories, homes and businesses. Surgical technologists help with surgical operations. Electricians are in charge of the maintenance, installation and operations of electrical systems in a variety of settings.
Education Requirements At least an associate's or bachelor's degree At least a high school diploma or GED At least a technical or associate's degree At least a high school diploma or GED
Program Length 1-2 years for an associate's degree or technical diploma, 3-5 years for a bachelor's degree 1-2 years for an associate's degree or technical diploma 1-2 years for an associate's degree or technical diploma, 3-5 years for a bachelor's degree 1-2 years for an associate's degree or technical diploma
Certification and Licensing Certification might be required Licensure is usually required Certification might be preferred Licensure is usually required
Job Outlook (2014-2024) Fast as average growth (8% for all network and computer systems administrators)* Faster than average growth (12%)* Much faster than average growth (15%)* Much faster than average growth (14%)*
Mean Salary (2014) Roughly $79,770 (for all network and computer systems administrators)* Roughly $54,620 * Roughly $45,010* Roughly $54,520*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Computer Systems Administrator

In the modern age, almost every company and organization relies on computer networks for its daily operations. As a computer systems administrator, you'll typically be in charge of maintaining the daily operations of an organization or company's computer system. Job duties might include installation and support, working with wide area and local area networks and operating various communication systems for data. You also might be in charge of training individuals to use computer networks.

Requirements

To become a computer systems administrator, you'll typically need to earn an associate's or bachelor's degree in information technology (IT), computer science or a similar discipline. You also might need to earn certification from a software company, like Red Hat, Cisco or Microsoft. The number of years of experience you'll need depends on the employer.

In December 2012, employers posted the following jobs on the Internet:

  • In Detroit, MI, a global solutions firm sought a full-time network and computer systems administrator with at least three years of experience as a network administrator.
  • A clinic in Minneapolis, MN, was seeking a computer systems administrator with a 4-year IT degree or a 2-year degree and four years of experience in the field.
  • In Colorado, an employer was looking for a computer systems technologist and system administrator with a bachelor's degree in a technical field, up to 12 years of experience and expertise in Linux and/or Unix systems administration.

Standing Out

Staying on top of the latest trends in computer technology can be a solid way to stand out as a computer systems administrator and keep current in a swiftly developing industry. Experience with Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X and Linux all can be useful. Learning to write Python, Perl and shell scripts, as well as knowledge of storage products like Oracle, IBM and DataDirect Networks, can also help you stand out from the crowd.

Plumber

As a plumber, you could potentially work in a variety of locations, from factories to office buildings to personal residences. Typically, your primary job duty will be installing and maintaining the functionality of fixtures and pipes. This often requires studying, analyzing and following plumbing blueprints.

Requirements

You'll likely need to complete an apprenticeship to become a journeyman plumber, which can take 4-5 years. Alternatively, you might choose to attend a tech school or an applied technology program with a focus on plumbing. Familiarity with state codes and regulations is usually required.

In most states, licensure is required to work as a plumber. Specific requirements vary by state and level. For example, journeyman plumbers in Minnesota need at least four years of experience; master plumber licensure in that state requires journeyman licensure and at least five years of work as a plumbing contractor.

Here are a few positions that were posted online in December 2012:

  • A plumbing company in Wichita, KS, was searching for a lead plumber to manage employees and assist customers.
  • In Minnesota, a company was seeking a journeyman plumber who had completed 4-5 years in an apprenticeship program to report to plumbing division management.
  • A maintenance plumber with a high school diploma or a GED and three years of experience was sought by a hospital in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Standing Out

One way to stand out as a plumber is to familiarize yourself with technology used in the industry. For example, you might take courses or tutorials in facilities and project management, bookkeeping and estimation software as well as industry-specific programs, such as Elite Software's Plumbing CAD Details and AutoCAD's MEP (Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing).

Surgical Technologist

Surgical technologists, also known as operating room technicians, typically help prepare patients for surgery and assist lead surgeons. Often, you'll be in charge of sterilizing medical equipment, passing equipment and surgical tools to first assistants and head surgeons and disinfecting incisions. You'll also need to set up operating rooms before surgery.

Requirements

The amount of experience that you'll need to become a surgical technologist depends largely on the job and employer. You'll probably need to complete an associate's degree or certificate program in surgical technology that's accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). During your studies, you're likely to obtain hands-on experience alongside an experienced surgical technologist.

In December 2012, the following surgical technology jobs were posted on the Internet:

  • A community hospital in Columbus, WI, was looking for a surgical technician with CPR certification and at least two years of experience; applicants with surgical technologist certification were preferred.
  • In Bellevue, WA, a surgical technologist was sought for various 13-week operating room positions including emergency room, pediatrics, postpartum and outpatient services.
  • A hospital career center in Minnesota was looking for a surgical technologist with a degree from an accredited surgical technologist program and at least a year of experience.

Standing Out

Completing an internship can be a solid way to bolster your resume and stand out as a surgical technologist. There are a multitude of hospital and health-related internships available that can be a solid way to gain experience in the field. Also, earning surgical technologist certification from the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting can be helpful. The National Healthcare Association (NHA) and the National Center for Competency Testing offer additional credentials in the field.

Electrician

As an electrician, the maintenance and installation of various types of electrical equipment, lighting and wiring will typically be the primary purpose of your job. Duties often include troubleshooting electrical problems, inspecting circuit breakers and transformers, installing systems and training workers. On the job, you must follow the regulations of the National Electric Code.

Requirements

Similar to plumbers, aspiring electricians often complete a 4-year apprenticeship to become a journeyman. You also might opt to earn an electrician's certificate or an associate's degree in electronics technology. Although requirements vary, licensure is required by most states.

The following positions were posted on the Internet in December 2012:

  • In North Oklahoma and South Texas, licensed journeyman electricians were sought to work at gas and oil well locations and sites.
  • In California, a national security nonprofit organization was seeking a journeyman electrician with three years of experience with ship repair. Vocational training, an associate's degree or completion of a Naval Shipyard Electrician Apprenticeship was required.
  • Licensure as a master electrician and 2-5 years of experience were required for various lead electrician positions in the New England area; applicants with an associate's degree or higher were preferred.

Standing Out

Knowledge of a second language can be a way to stand out from other electricians and increase the number of jobs that you're qualified for. Additionally, a variety of certification options are available for electricians. You might consider credentials offered by organizations like the International Association of Electrical Inspectors (IAEI), American Lighting Association or Electrical Testing Technician Certification Institute (ETTCI).

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Lincoln Tech

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ECPI University

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